Monica's previous album 'Still Standing' left me with such a rush that I had big expectations for the next. I've always been a fan of this talented lady and my loyalty only strengthened upon hearing that the singer will never abandon her r&b roots in the name of conformity.
'New Life' is Monica's seventh studio album and boy have I heard plenty of mixed reviews about this one. Well, I'm not one to base my opinion on what others say so I believe a fair track-by-track review is necessary to put the critics to rest, or maybe learn if they have a point on this one. Join me as I evaluate Monica's 'New Life' and see what this journey unravels:
I loved the intro where Monica calls up the ‘queen of keeping it real, Mary J. Blige, and gets reassured that she shouldn’t worry about anything and just stay focus on her family, friends, and staying true to herself. Monica’s surrounded by so much love at this point in time and it’s all new again for her. Hence, she’s embracing her ‘New Life.’
When word came out that Brandy and Mo were getting back in the studio to work on another duet, I was anticipating the results. Unfortunately, ‘It All Belongs To Me’ didn’t quite hit the nail for me. The song is good, but not great. It misses out that oomph you’d expect when two talented vocalists get work together. I’m not knocking the track for keeping it modern, but the lyrics are anything but mature in my opinion.
‘Daddy’s Good Girl’ is smooth, groovy and exceptionally sensual. I’m definitely buying what she’s selling here. The track turns up the sex appeal but keeps it tasteful. It’s all about loyalty; remaining faithful to the one you love and keeping the relationship drama free. All she’s asking for is for him to remain true to her. This is a hot song. I’m feeling it.
I love the island vibe in ‘Man Who Has Everything.’ This is the third Rico Love production in a row on the album and I do not detest that fact just yet. But as meaningful are the words she’s singing, Monica sounds rather restraint on this one. It’s not bad, but it’s not okay either.
‘Big Mistake’ started out with this old school that immediately pulled me in. Again, the production is cool but the songstress is sounding far from impressive. I believe the appropriate word is tired.
‘Take A Chance’ picked up the energy in terms of the beat. This is the most fast paced track so far and yet another Rico Love production, but Monica is still wallowing in her laid-back vibe. The song’s about taking risks but the singer hasn’t been taking any so far. Whatever happened to the lady unafraid of belting out those strong and captivating notes? The track barely survived even with the assistance of Wale. I failed to see the purpose of his appearance.
Now, this is what I’m talking about. A song that delivers nothing but divine quality; ‘Without You’ takes you to that higher place that makes you feel untouchable. This is the most beautiful track I’ve heard thus far and I hope the rest of the album picks up from here on even with only four remaining. It’s about completion; finding true love, starting a family, and feeling absolutely happy and free. The words are coming straight from the heart, and I feel Monica so much more on this song than any of the previous. Maybe because this is a dedication to her love and in actuality it is.
I loved ‘Until It’s Gone’ the very first moment I heard and saw. The words are wise, true, and beyond real. It’s like karma, what goes around comes around, and we all know that come cliché. You truly don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Monica schools us great on this one. Leave it to Missy Elliott and Jazmine Sullivan to bring out meaningful tracks like these.
It seems they arranged for the last part of the album to be the better part. The songs are sexy, catchy, heartfelt, and without a doubt exceptional. ‘Amazing’ is defined in its title because that’s exactly what this track is. I have no bad thoughts on this one. It’ll be stuck on repeat for days to come. Bryan-Michael Cox is the man to check when in need of a soulful r&b ballad.
‘Cry’ sounds like a track from the 70’s; a dreamy, lullaby-ish, bluesy ballad with modern contemporary r&b influences. I like how bittersweet the song is; I feel as if I’m literally sitting in front of the singer in one of those intimate sessions just taking in the words and getting lost in the soothing atmosphere. I’m left speechless in trying to interpret my reaction to this song, I am only left with a strong recommendation.
The singer continues her bluesy streak in the closing track ‘Time To Move On.’ This song takes me back to where ‘Misty Blue’ left off. Monica depicts her musical influences in these two final songs on the album. And interestingly enough, her old school tracks showcase a more vibrant and energetic vocal performance than any of the previous tracks. She definitely sounds more alive than she did leading up to the end of this shaky journey.
Monica ends this chapter with a new. Meaningful words are spoken against some emotional piano melodies depicting the changes taking place and where the singer hopes to go from this moment. I like the fact that she’s telling a story on each of her albums but this one almost had me falling over. Thankfully, the seventh track was like hot chocolate curing a hang-over.
So, what are my closing thoughts on Monica’s latest? Her ‘New Life’ ain’t sounding so fun and energetic at all. If she’s enjoying it, I’m not hearing the proof in the singing. It wasn’t a complete disappointment, but I expected excellence, not satisfactory. Let’s try again Monica. ‘New Life’ gets a rating of 4.2/5
====== Track listing:01. New Life (intro) ft. Mary J. Blige 02. It All Belongs To Me duet. Brandy 03. Daddy’s Good Girl 04. Man Who Has Everything 05. Big Mistake 06. Take A Chance 07. Without You 08. Until It’s Gone 09. Amazing 10. Cry 11. Time To Move On 12. New Life (Outro)
Purchase this album now on itunes